That has been the theory of many who have read official reports (FEMA/NIST) about the building’s collapse. Among them was a shareholder, John-Paul Leonard, from the building’s principal insurer, Allianz Group of Munich. He sued the company in April 2005 on grounds of fraudulent explanations about the collapse and claimed it was caused by a controlled demolition.
FEMA’s report (2002), which apparently satisfied Allianz officials, claimed the collapse was the direct result of several fires ignited by North Tower debris and not shock waves from the Tower collapses.
Yet if flaming debris fell on the roof, the obvious unanswered questions ever since September 11 have been: 1) Why fires were seen inside No. 7 on two or three floors though the windows had not been blown out, customary in conflagrations; 2) Why firefighters were ordered from the building at 11:30 a.m. “for safety reasons” instead of extinguishing the fires; and 3) How Silverstein could claim that his directive to the Fire Chief to “pull it” alluded to pulling firefighters from the building if none were inside. (“Pull” is the demolition term for setting off explosive charges for an implosion.) FEMA’s report stated that “no manual firefighting operations were taken.”
The explanation for the firefighter evacuation seems to have been the basement and lobby explosions set off in No. 7 beforethe Towers collapsed. Two witnesses to the explosions were both high-ranking city officials: Michael Hess, New York City’s corporate counsel, and Barry Jennings, deputy director of emergency services in the city’s Housing Authority. They had rushed to the 23rd floor’s Emergency Center for the complex.
Ordered to “leave right away” by an unidentified person prior to the Tower collapses, the two rushed down the stairs. When they reached the 6th floor, an explosion collapsed the stairs beneath them. They clambered to the 8th floor and took another route to the lobby and found it destroyed and littered with bodies.
They were ordered not to look at what Jennings described to the media as a “King Kong” rampage in the lobby. His street-side account would seem to support the multiple-explosion theory in the basement areas. It also contradicts suggestions that No. 7’s collapse was attributable to fire.
Evidence about explosive devices includes statements that were made by television reporters for the British Broadcasting company and Cable News Network. One in particular was that the building had collapsed a half-hour prior to that event——despite its presence directly behind the BBC reporter. This raised questions about a pre-arranged demolition by owner Larry Silverstein should the Towers suffer a ruinously expensive repeat of the 1993 bombings ($330 million).
Prior to 9/11, the Towers were in such dangerous condition that floor-by-floor demolition——as has now been done with the Deutsche bank building——that at least two applications had been filed to the city by the WTC complex owners, the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey. The Towers were insulated with asbestos, and the alumninum exterior cladding was so corroded that it endangered pedestrians below. Both conditions were singled out as causes for significant declines in tenancy.
But the city denied the applications because the WTC was built on municipal bonds and because it was a major attraction to tourists and bound up in civic pride. The Port then turned to leasing the complex and thrusting the renovation expenses onto the whoever won the bid.
Repair estimates exceeding $200,000,000 were provided by the Port Authority to Silverstein and the other three parties who submitted bids in late 2000. Silverstein’s bid of $3,200,000,000 made him the leaseholder.
A clause in Silverstein’s insurance policy for the buildings——his financial backers insisted upon $3,500,000,000 coverage——included the right to rebuild the complex in the event of another 1993 bombing. Rationale for the clause seemed to be that such an attack would require repair costs far exceeding those for demolition and replacement of the Towers.
Again, the time frame between Silverstein’s late-afternoon order to “pull” the building and its collapse would have been insufficient for demolition professionals to place explosives. Installation would have had to have been long before September 11. Foreign demolition experts have estimated it would have required weeks of planning and implementation by specialists.
Domestically, nearly 300 scientists and technology experts have agreed, stating the No. 7’s collapse was attributable to high-yield explosives, because of several markers: sudden onset and destruction at its base; demolition waves removing column supports; the 6.5-second free-fall speed removing the path of greatest resistance; chemical evidence of thermate on beams and in dust samples.
Adherents of the thermate theory have pointed out that the heat from molten metal at No. 7’s base consumed volunteers’ boots and the need to protect paws of search-and-rescue dogs.
The rapid, straight-down collapse exactly into the building’s footprint also underpinned the stockholder’s charge that Allianz had paid a fraudulent claim of millions out of reserves that would affect dividends and the company’s solvency. That no other Allianz shareholders except Mr. Leonard, or company officials took issue with the payout might suggest losses may have been covered by outside sources wanting immediate closure to further inquiries.
Mr. Leonard obviously was aware that the 26 insurance companies involved in the WTC event carried out far more thorough investigations about the collapses than FEMA or NIST. Adjusters were on site the afternoon of September 11. The Department of Defense provided insurers with powerful computer programs for classified research——but, curiously, not to FEMA.